When I Run, I Run Ugly

I’ve been riding bikes so long it’s easy. I don’t mean easy like I go out and crush Tour stages easy, but 99% – well, ok, maybe 85-90% of the time, when I’m suffering on the bike, I can find a way to make it work. I’m comfortable enough to find a way to get as much efficient power as I can, even if I’m barely moving, and keep from completely blowing up. I can ‘suffer comfortably’. I can ‘settle’ and know that mechanically, I’m doing the right thing, the best I can. When I run, it’s a gong show.

It sounds very ‘Bruce Lee’, but my ‘run technique’ is the presence of a complete lack of any fixed technique. That might imply a vision of fluidity, but it’s anything but. When I run, it’s a complete assault on my body – and mind. Everything is jarring and angular. Everything shakes and jiggles, including a lot that shouldn’t. There’s no ‘flow’. I plod. I lurch. I stumble. It’s like my feet are in a 4th grade playground fight with the Earth and are punching the ground. Every piece of advice I’ve been given and and every article I’ve read about running are simultaneously running through my mind like the images of violence flashing in front of our humble narrator Alex undergoing the Ludovico Technique. I can go for a 5k run and try 7 different versions of what I ‘think’ should be ‘running,’ all the while chastising myself that, really, as a species, we’ve been running since the dawn of time, so how is it possible for me to screw it up so badly.

I don’t know why I run. I tell myself – and other people sometimes – that it’s for the cross-training, the variety, sometimes I even lie and say I enjoy it. I think, really, it’s because it’s the quickest way for me to get uncomfortable. I can go for ‘bike rides’ and phone them in. I can cruise, spin and still maintain a pretty good pace over considerable distance without doing much ‘work’ – and sometimes it’s easy to fall back into that trap. Running, within 15 feet of the end of my driveway, I am positively miserable. And by that I mean, miserable in the best possible way. I know that I’m doing something I don’t really want to be doing – but doing it anyway. Unlike some other folks, I don’t need to go run a 100k desert ultra to ‘push myself out of my comfort zone’. I can do that handily within a 10k radius of my house. I hate to quote him here, but I think it was Lance who when asked why he liked to push himself so hard on the bike replied, “because it feels good when I stop.” There have been times when I’ve run on a pretty regular basis and have had periods where I started to feel somewhat confident and almost achieved the state I can so easily settle into on the bike, but for the most part I run so I can get it over with. For the feeling of accomplishment of having put myself through it and come out the other side. It’s kinda like Fight Club but with less bruising and cuts. I run for growth I guess, even if, during, it seems like I’m stunting it.

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